HP is smarting from a $108 million fine today, thanks to a guilty plea it entered in a San Francisco federal court. HP and its subsidiaries were accused of paying bribes to officials and businesses in Mexico, Poland, and Russia to buy lucrative contracts. The fine wraps up the settlement, which was announced in April. HP has since jettisoned the people it believes were involved in the bribes.
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The bribes reportedly involved contracts with a police agency and an oil company, among other foreign government-controlled organizations. HP was accused of making payments – sometimes cloak and dagger affairs with secret meeting and actual bags of cash – to corrupt officials. One official manage to snag a trip to Las Vegas in exchange for helping HP improve its sales in Poland. At times, the efforts to hide the corruption became complex, with shell companies and cooked books covering up the bribes. The value of payments could have topped $1 million.